Mr. Chairman, I rise today first and foremost to praise the courage, performance and commitment of our troops stationed in Iraq and elsewhere. We are immensely grateful for your sacrifices.
Because of this war in Iraq, today the lives of 135,000 military families are disrupted, and 125,000 civilian contractor families are divided. Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers and civilian contractors have already given their lives. We have lost over 140 young New York military men and women in Iraq.
I voted against the Iraq war from day one. Now, escalating this costly war would be a senseless mistake. We are all affected by the human suffering in Iraq. This week, we have a chance to act. Escalation is wrong, and we must take it upon ourselves to make things right.
If we are to invest more in Iraq, let it be for rebuilding. Baghdad’s residents only get electricity for 4 hours a day. Iraq will never achieve stability without a restored infrastructure. 1.8 million Iraqis are internally displaced and well over 1 million more have fled to other nations. Increasing our troop levels does nothing for Iraq’s refugees or its infrastructure.
This Administration’s flawed foreign policy has damaged our relationship with our allies. The public opposes this war, Iraqis oppose this war, the world opposes this war, and this Congress should speak loudly against this war too.
Our military has been stretched to the brink of breakdown. Our actions in Iraq have set back the war on terror, and made problems in the Middle East much worse.
This war has distracted us from our responsibilities at home too. Poverty is raging. Millions have lost their jobs and health insurance. Families struggle to pay for the cost of transportation, energy and housing. Yet we choose to spend $8 billion of hard earned money every month in Iraq, not at home. While the cost of the war escalates, our most important social programs for our kids, the elderly and the poor get slashed to pay for it.
We have dug a deep hole of debt to finance this Iraq war, and we will ask the children of working families to pay off that debt. These priorities are misplaced. We should be investing in our children, not borrowing against their future.
Our young men and women return from Iraq with all sorts of health problems, both physical and psychological. The trauma of this war will affect the lives of our veterans forever. This Resolution expresses our commitment to supporting our veterans’ needs. We must honor the sacrifices our veterans have made for this nation. We must provide for them from the moment they get home to their families.
I believe this war is more wrong today than ever before. We must stand forcefully for what is right -- for our troops, for the victims of this war and for the priorities we are neglecting at home. Let this body send the world a powerful message that the U.S. is changing course in Iraq. We must end this war.